13 Facts About Ban Gu


Ban Gu was a Chinese historian, politician, and poet best known for his part in compiling the Book of Han, the second of China's 24 dynastic histories.


Ban Gu wrote a number of fu, a major literary form, part prose and part poetry, which is particularly associated with the Han era.


The Ban Gu family was one of the most distinguished families of the Eastern Han dynasty.


Ban Gu's great-aunt Consort Ban was a scholar and poet, and his father Ban Biao was a prominent historian.


Ban Gu took over from his father responsibility for writing a history of the former Han Dynasty, a book known in modern times as the Hanshu or Book of Han.


Ban Gu's twin brother Ban Gu Chao was a famous military leader and explorer of Central Asia.


Ban Gu did not immediately begin an official career, but remained in the Ban Gu family home in Anling to work on the completion of his father's historical sequel to Sima Qian's Records of the Grand Historian.


Around AD60, rumors were reported to Emperor Ming of Han that Ban Gu was "privately revising the national history", which caused the imperial court to become concerned about the type of account Ban Gu would write of the fall of the Western Han and the rise of the Eastern Han.


Ban Gu was assigned to compile the annals of Emperor Guangwu of Han, the first Eastern Han emperor, and in AD64 was assigned to the collation of books in the imperial library and promoted to the rank of gentleman.


Ban Gu continued to serve in the imperial library and at the imperial court throughout the second half of the 1st century AD.


Ban Gu later served as a high-ranking literary official under Dou Xian, the brother of Emperor Zhang's empress.


Immediately thereafter, Ban Gu was dismissed from office and arrested by an old rival, Chong Jing, who was serving as the prefect of Luoyang.


The modern historian Hsu Mei-ling states that Ban Gu's written work in geography set the trend for the establishment of geographical sections of history texts, and most likely sparked the trend of the gazetteer in ancient China.